15 November 2012

The land of Cotton inches northward

Last year I planted a number of cotton seeds in several pots.  They all germinated over the summer months, although none grew enough to put forth any flowers.

I attempted to winter them over indoors, and the plants were doing quite well until December when two of the four inexplicably gave up the ghost.  I watched over the remaining two—like Florence Nightingale fussing over patients hanging by a thread—and was heartsick when the third plant perished.  With fingers cross't, I somehow managed to nurse the fourth plant through the rest of the winter and by late spring was able to put it outside again.

Over this past summer, it grew tall and hardy, but still no flowers.  In anticipation of an imminent frost, I brought it indoors last month, checking on it daily to make sure it was surviving the transition.  Lo and behold! a few of the leaves had formed a wee tent around a nub or 'candle'.

Slowly, over the course of a week or so, the creamy white-green petals of a flower
emerged from its protective tent of leaves.
 And then slowly, slowly, it began to unfurl
until little by little you could see inside...

...and it opened entirely.

 (After several days, to my great surprise, it began to close again
and while doing so it turned a beautiful shade of rosey pink.)

With luck, the flower will dry and change over time....

... until this is happens.

The evolution of a cotton plant, from nub to flower to cotton boll,
is truly a miraculous thing to witness. 
(Especially if you happen to live in Zone 6 New England!?)
I managed to grow cotton twice in the past
and have the soft, lamb-like cotton balls as a reminder.
I'm hoping this will be my third success.

[Images are from the Cotton Growers Association and agricultural departments in Texas and North Carolina]


  1. My goodness, will you be spinning soon?

  2. Hah! Barely enough cotton to dab at a papercut. But I wait patiently for the boll to appear, if only to be able to enjoy the accomplishment!